Wednesday, May 07, 2008

More Talks, More Basics

When I walked Mina home yesterday, when it was just she and I alone holding hands shuffling along the cracked and uneven sidewalks of our neighborhood, I asked her if her school had talked about what had happened over at the middle school. She said no. She said she was glad it didn't happen at her school. She said, "I wish it had happened to another --" she stopped, "I wish it hadn't happened at all." I asked her what she understood had happened. She thought, her head down, the sun reflecting off her hair. She said, "A teacher ran over four students with his car." We stopped, still holding hands and she looked at me when I laughed. It was precious enough to break a heart, but I knew -- dammit -- that I had to explain again the inexplicable evils of the adult psyche. I realized she was only half awake when I had told them that morning; I was mainly telling Maya too. I sighed and told Mina that the teacher had been inappropriate with four students. "Like sexual harassment," she says. I swear she waffles between a five year old and a thirty year old. I said, "Yea. An adult shouldn't ever act like a kid is their girlfriend or boyfriend." Then we, again, had the talk about how our private area is our own private area. Nobody touches yours; you don't touch nobody's. She was quiet and we looked at the trees that lined our block. I felt good to be arming them, proud. She said, "I wish we could've played with Bella this weekend." Ah yes, arming them with the power to tune me out after the hundredth time of the same speech.

Maya has a friend that took classes with the accused teacher. She's an outgoing Italian girl who is fairly new to the country and who hangs with Maya's crew sometimes. Yesterday she didn't come to school because of the hours of questioning at the police station. She had been touched on the arm here and there by the teacher; a tiny bit creepy she told Maya, but nothing noteworthy. The main victim is good friends with the Italian girl. She hadn't understood why the girl wanted to spend so many lunches alone with the teacher in his classroom. It had been going on for months. I asked Maya why she thought the girl hadn't spoke up sooner. This is something her group of friends talked about too. After all the posturing about how they would've said something immediately, they all really thought about the scenario. "She was probably really scared," Maya told me. It was a tender and terrifying conclusion.

The school has handled the situation well. I know parents want to channel their anger towards the school, but unless you can dig into the mind of predator, there's no way the school would've known. The ESL program is a bit segregated and isolated too; this guy took advantage of all of that. Counselors and therapist have been available on campus for students and teachers. An emergency PTA meeting was open to parents Monday. Two letters were sent home, one reported all the details the school knew at the moment, the other letter detailed normal reactions from students even if they weren't victims; some could act out, some could withdraw. Teachers spent entire classes talking about it yesterday. The students' well being has been at the forefront. I find a lot of comfort in that. We wait now for more news.

* * *

I'm finding a lot of comfort too, in general, in the Basics thing. I've revived my spring/summer herb garden. I use a ton of herbs when cooking and making salads. I don't think many things taste better than fresh herbs. At my farmers market we have a genius herb family who sells the best stuff ever. I used to say that I had a brown thumb, but with this family's super plants I've had a lot of luck keeping them, most of them, alive long enough to devour. This, to the left, is called Dingle Fairy Oregano. I wish I was kidding.

Here's some Spicy Globe Basil in the front, Pineapple Sage in the back -- yes it smells like pineapple -- and Dill to the left there
And the gorgeous mint.
I started using homemade earth-friendly cleaners. They're a snap to mix together and I'm not kidding when I say they work great. There's less of a residue on stuff when cleaning with them. I didn't know it was this easy and uncomplicated. I recommend it highly. Here's what I've been using:

All Purp Cleaner, in a 32oz spray bottle:
1/2 c. white distilled vinegar
2 c. water - EDITED, before I accidentally said 1c. water - DOH.
2 TBSP Borax*
20 drops of pure essential tea tree oil (prevents mildew and the fungus among us)
I also added about 10 drops of a tangerine oil that Maya scored free from our incense guy at the farmers market. That's why my bottle has that orange tint.

Glass Cleaner:
1 part white distilled vinegar
2 parts water
Smells funny, works awesomely

Sink/Tub Scrub:
Plain baking soda, then scrub
For extra oomph, sprinkle baking soda on a used lemon half then scrub the sink. Whoa, super clean.

* Borax was not super easy to find. I looked in 3 stores before I found it. It can be bought on if you can't find anywhere else. It's called 20 Mule Borax. Though earth-friendly, it's not safe to ingest. Careful with the kiddies that like to eat cleaning stuff. I've also been adding Borax to the wash; cutting down on the detergent and adding a 1/2 c. of the stuff. It's been amazing. Apparently it deodorizes garbage cans too. I'm about to deposit some into my checking account; see if it works wonders there.

Talk to you guys later.


Vicki's Vegan Vice said...

the herbs are beautiful! and the photo of your homemade cleaners, complete with recipes did it for me. i'm making some when i get home. thanks for the inspiration! :)

Pixielyn said...

whoa that is sooooooo cool about the cleansers, I'm trying that!! I'm just asking because I know that you will have the correct answer........Why is a product like windex harmful to the environment? I have never thought about that.

Also........about the abuse of the little girls in your middle school. That is so amazingly sad to me!! It angers me as a an adult AND as a Mom. Our grade school went through this years ago when my son was in school and they did nothing or said nothing to the other students at the time and it was so hard for me to understand why they wouldnt council them.It actually all turned out to be false but at the time there were so many Little kids with HUGE questions....
Kudos to you for talking about it with your girls.... You are such a great example!! Thank you for sharing this with us!

madness rivera said...

Thanks Vicki-can't wait to hear about your homemade cleaning experiment.

Hi Pixielyn, I'm so sorry that the allegations happened at your school too, but I'm more sorry that the school didn't address it more with kids. I've been really impressed with our school. You can't leave kids worried and wondering. About Windex, there are a known amount of chemicals in Windex that aren't just toxic to the environment, but to us. I think there is probably more crap in cleaners than we know about as the below article suggests:

Pixielyn said...

Oh Thank you Madness, I followed some other links also in that article, WOW, I so did not EVEN realize ANY of this!!! GAG!
You are a doll for taking the time to answer my question.
And I so agree with you about the school and the differences in how yours and my sons handled such a sensitive issue, you are so right!

greenish said...

Yea for the cleaners. Every, and I mean every grocery store here (Rustbelt) sells Borax. Must be a geographic thing. I use it mixed with washing soda and castille soap to make laundry soap.

Also, white vinegar is an awesome fabric softener.

I am glad to hear about how Maya's school is handling things. I remember in the late seventies and early eighties when things were swept under the carpet and the truth was called 'rumors.'

Per usual, your girls sound amazing.

julie hasson said...

So sorry to hear about everything going on at the middle school. It just gets you right in the gut, especially as a mom of two teenagers.

On another note, thank you so much for sharing your recipes for the homemade cleaners. I'm going to pick up some Borax today for them. You also reminded me that I need to buy some more herb plants at the Farmer's market this weekend. Thanks! You're an inspiration Madness!

madness rivera said...

Thanks so much Pixielyn and Julie.

Hey Greenish, I had read about more eco ways of doing the laundry too. I want to experiment with it. Thanks for the encouragement!

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